By Chloe Rambo
For Pip Cawley and Morgan Sherwood, it wasn’t just another moonlit, summer evening. It was a romantic picnic with a touch of white wine, nestled together on a blanket underneath the summer’s supermoon. Then, bam, Pip popped the question – the question – and presented a silver ring topped with a diamond and two glistening blue stones.
Pip, a 30-year-old teaching assistant and grad student at Washington State University, and Morgan, 23, an IT employee of the city of Pullman, Washington, share a syrupy sweet love story. After first laying eyes on each other at a roller derby bout – Morgan (on skates wreaking havoc) and Pip (cheering in the stands) met later up that night and danced at a local club with friends. Since then, the two women have been absolutely inseparable.
“We planned to go on an official date, but I ended up getting a cold,” said Pip. But Morgan didn’t miss a beat. Turns out, a little homemade chicken noodle soup does good for the soul and for the heart, too. “She made me some soup, and it was so romantic,” Pip adds. Almost exactly a year after meeting, the two are embarking on the adventure of planning their wedding.
The colors: black and white with an accent of bright rainbow. The food: Little nibbles, including fruit, veggies, meats and cheese and tiny caprese bites. The theme: A celebration of love, plain and simple. The only problem: 9 miles of highway.
That strip of tar is their only hiccup so far —Pip and Morgan reside in Washington State, where gay marriage is legal, yet want their ceremony just nine miles across the border into the small and alternative northwestern college town of Moscow, Idaho, where gay marriage isn’t recognized. “But at least we can get married — that’s a step,” Pip says. The couple will sign papers and exchange official vows a week before the wedding, then ‘recreate’ the exchange during their ceremony. Washington State joined the nation’s pro-marriage equality states in 2012 via a public vote. Thirteen other states have legalized same-sex marriage since Minnesota was the first state to break the ice in November of 2003, while New Mexico currently has no provision concerning gay marriage.
Both Pip and Morgan have made a list of their wedding ‘must includes’ and ‘please don’ts,’ so they could discuss them and make the important decisions together. “All we want is for the wedding dynamics to all be in a positive direction,” says Pip. “That’s been our main goal.”
“We’re lucky in the sense that we get along well and can communicate with each other about these things without getting frustrated,” Morgan says. In a two-week period, the couple was able to hammer down the location, photographer and the date – which can be the three most daunting things to agree on. They conquered much of the wedding planning while coordinating their summer engagement party.
Each bridesmaid and bridesman in both Pip and Morgan’s bridal party will sport a color of the rainbow, whether it is in the form of a saturated stiletto and matching parasol or brightly hued suspenders. “It’s completely freeing – we don’t have to follow any particular religious or family traditions in our wedding,” Pip says. “By nature, we’re already different, and we can celebrate this exactly how we want.
The sets of cloth napkins on the reception tables will take on each shade of the rainbow, while floating LED tea lights, candles and prisms will decorate the space. Both Pip and Morgan want a summer wedding surrounded by the ones they love, and a ceremony filled with happiness along with a dash of whimsy. Pip and Morgan will craft their own vows and choose a unique poem or set of song lyrics to be read during the ceremony – rather than a set of Bible verses.
In marriage equality states, same-sex couples have much less to worry about when crafting their big day — the number of available and willing vendors has increased exponentially, so creating a ceremony that reflects the needs, desires and greatest dreams of the couple is simplified. “I’m all about simplifying, and not taking on all the extra bullshit that can come with traditional weddings,” Morgan says.
But will there be dancing?
“We want everyone to have a good time,” Morgan says. “Booze, dancing and repeat.”
The featured photography is by Kyndall Elliott from ShutterKey Photography, based in Moscow, Idaho. Find her on Facebook, or at her website at www.shutterkey.com.
Putting the pieces together for your own wedding
Kathryn Hamm is the president of wedding planning website GayWeddings.com, a popular resource for finding the perfect venue, officiates, florists, and more. Ten years ago, Hamm said the site had only a few thousand vendors. Now, GayWeddings.com features more than 60,000 LGBTQ-friendly resources and vendors to craft the perfect wedding.
Making the wedding your best day is all in the details, and that includes making wedding planning a joint priority. “Spend plenty of time talking about and thinking about the kind of ritual you want to have and how you want it to reflect your commitment to one another,” Hamm says.
“In the beginning, we attracted mainly those vendors who had gay friends or relatives and wanted to make a difference,” Hamm says. “There were many vendors who were interested but were scared to death that their listing might be public or someone might learn that they want to, or do, support same-sex couples, and as a result, would lose business. This conversation still exists in some states, but has largely fallen silent in marriage equality states.”
More resources —
GayWeddings.com — Inspirational ideas, as well as decorating tips and planning assistance.
DepositAGift.com — Consider setting up a “crowdfunding” site to offer guests and friends an easy way to donate dollars to your honeymoon fund, or even your photography package.
Pinterest.com — See inspiring photos from hundreds, if not thousands, of other weddings. Pip and Morgan shared décor ideas through following one another’s Pinterest boards.
OffBeatBride.com — Find inspirational and alternative venues, hairpieces, dresses, suits and themes for diverse weddings and ceremonies of every variety.